Friday, December 30, 2011

Hail around my 1953 MG TD Sports Car

1975 - A rare, rare day in Burbank - so much hail that it looked almost like snow. Previously, it had snowed last in Burbank in the 1940s, and it snowed again in early 2011. Wasn't there for either of them. This particular shot is in the front yard of my childhood home on California Street. The car is my beloved 1953 MG TD. My dad (my natural father, John) gave me $1000 in 1971 so I could buy a car to drive to college. I bought this wonderful vehicle and he never complained - in fact, he thought it was cool. I used to drive this to USC while wearing a white leather jacket with gold buttons. Once, my steering column sliced through the whole wiring harness just before arriving home. The momentum carried me right up into the drive way. I ordered and installed a whole new wiring harness (all the wires in the whole car in a bundle) all by hand myself. At the end of the long day I turned it on and realized I'd reversed left and right and had to do it all over. The gas gauge didn't work on the car so I used a stick in the tank on the back. Eventually, the bark peeled off and clogged the fuel line. It would gradually cut off the gas until I had to stop every hour or so, unscrew the fuel line from the carburetor, then attach a rubber hose and blow the fuel back to the tank to clear the blockage. Then, I'd have to reattach the fuel line before the gas came rushing back down so it wouldn't spill. Once I had to do that at 2 in the morning in the bad part of town - pretty spooky. This thing had dual carbs (just cylinders with floating balls in them) and one of them was missing a stop, so on the freeway under high pressure, it would always splash gas out the top all over the hot engine. But, it evaporated pretty quickly, leaving a trail of un-burned white gas fumes behind me like a cloud for the whole trip. I remember once stopping at a light, again around 2 in the morning, as I was passing a bar. A bunch of guys at the bar saw my odd car and decided it would be a good thing to screw with. They ran across the street to (I suppose) rip the cloth top off my car and beat the snot out of me. I was so innocent in those days, I didn't want to run the red and just sat there. Fortunately, the light changed and the fuel line didn't choke, and I peeled out of there with about five feet between me and them. Since it didn't have working windshield wipers I used to have to poke my hand out the side window and clear the glass with a rag. It also made it pretty foggy on the inside. One time, I could barely see where I was going and almost ran over a motorcycle cop. I mean it - I stopped just inches from his legs. He wasn't happy. But, once he saw the pathetic person driving and took a good look at the even more pathetic condition of my car, he let me go with a stern warning. Ultimately, I chose to sell the car so I could support myself in film school. What costs we pay to pursue our art, eh? My dad (John) offered to pay my rent (he was already paying the tuition) but that was just too much for my self-esteem to bear. So, I sold the beast (which was quite a collectable antique) for $2500 to a doctor - $1500 more than I paid for it, so I did pretty good. He paid me in 50 $50 bills and the fuel line choked on the way out the driveway. Still bought it, though he looked a bit worried. Being me, I put on my worst ripped up jeans and crappy jacket and walked into the bank (no ATMs in those days) and portrayed a bum showing up at the teller window with $2500 in small bills. They looked askance at me, but took my money anyway.

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